I hate temples. So much, I hate them. I am, of course, a Cleric. And I suppose temples in general I'm more or less fond of. But this temple gets my undying condemnation. Not that the people running it care, I suppose. You see, every year a bunch of adventurers gather around this temple and are randomly sorted into groups of three to six by the monks who run the temple. They enter the temple and then never return, though the monks assure is that some have been chosen. I was down on my luck, my Banjhuluistic cult having recently disbanded, and feeling depressed. Why not, I decided, it couldn't hurt to try. It probably wouldn't hurt too much to fail, for that matter. I hear the afterlife is nice this time of year.
I ended up with a ranger and a half-giant. A psionic half-giant. I didn't know they made psionic half-giants, but apparently they do. Learn something new every day. The monks led us blindfolded into a room with one door and four statues, each to a different deity. Two I recognized as Xem, the god of war, and Efreya, the goddess of pleasure. The other two were some kind of ranger/huntress whose name just barely eluded me and a cloaked, childlike figure carrying a pair of daggers.
Slowly, we realized that the room around us was becoming a starfield. The half-giant also discovered he could walk through the walls, and that when he did so he appeared on the opposite side. A voice that I recognized as belonging to Xem said "One of you is not what he seems." The half-giant did the only reasonable thing at this point. He killed the ranger.
After a while, the eyes of the gods' statues began to glow. One of the gods got impatient and told us to get on with it, at which point we found the door had become unlocked. It did not lead back outside, which raises the question of how we got in that room in the first place. Regardless, I opened the door and was immediately sucked inside the next room. The half-giant followed after me with some precaution, and found I was zealously scarfing down some of the most amazing food I'd ever seen.
He splashed a bit of water on me, which distracted me from the food long enough to realize I was being enchanted. I backed away from the table slowly, at which point the half-giant picked me up and dunked me in a nearby fountain. This actually made me feel really good, but even so, I wasn't eager to try it again.
Then the half-giant decided to try some of the food, presumably tempted into doing so by Efreya. He hunkered down and started eating him. I prodded him to try and distract him, then tried splashing some water on him. Finally, I smacked him with my mace. No luck. After a few minutes, he came to on his own and we continued down through one of the doors in the hallway. And I was almost split in half by a saw blade. We were a bit more cautious after that, rolling a pumpkin from the banquet table to check for more traps before entering a large room with lots of letters on the ground. A statue to the thief-god was in the corner, and we were given a riddle. "What's my profession, what would you call me, and what I am?" the thief-god's voice asked.
Of course, with only so many letters available from each letter, we eventually were able to guess the solution from the possibilities: Thief, child, god, in that order. We were ever-wary of traps as we continued down through the temple, and came to a third room, this one with a dire bear trying to fish. It was less a room than a forest with doors in it. The half-giant managed to catch a fish, and tried to hand the fish to the bear on a stick, and the bear's paw passed right through it. Going through a bit of logic, I deduced that since we could touch the bear (the half-giant had given it a hug), and the bear was in the forest, and since we could touch the walls (the half-giant had run into them full-tilt whilst trying to see how big the forest was), and the walls were in the temple, then we were in both the forest and the temple, but the bear was only in the forest and the fish were only in the temple. Therefore if we handed the bear the fish, he'd be able to eat it.
The half-giant wasn't satisfied with this logic and tried feeding the bear the fish by placing it inside the pumpkin, then by placing it on the ground. Finally he tried things my way, and it worked. Ha ha, score one for human ingenuity!
Anyways, we continued on through the temple, this time coming to Xem's room, filled with white-clad soldiers fighting black-clad soldiers. "Darkness opens the way," a voice said. So we found a black-clad soldier and killed him. Nothing. Then he came back to life and went back to battle with the white-clad soldiers, ignoring us. We tried killing a white soldier instead. Nothing, but we did catch a glimpse of its eyes, which were odd. We pulled the helmet off for a closer look and found the black-clad soldiers had pure white eyes, and the white-clad soldiers pure black.
This one was a white soldier, and so had black eyes. "Quick!" I said, "Gouge his eyes out! We need darkness!" Then the soldier revived, took his helmet back with a bit of indignity, and shoved it back on his head, too late for us to try and emergency surgery. The half-giant, meanwhile, had noticed there was a large, sword-shaped indentation on the door leading out. So much for human ingenuity.
Ultimately, we discovered that a sword from the black-eyed, white clad soldiers would open it up. We also discovered that if you die in this room, you'll revive. We discovered this when the half-giant picked a fight with Xem and lost.
The next room had a clerk and an archangel bouncer. He demanded some water, which we could find in a well. We fetched it, and found a chest in the same room as the well. We were not stupid enough to open it. When we returned, he had us sign some papers stating that the gods were not responsible for anything that may happen to us whilst in their temple or on a quest for them. This was a revelation. I had no idea you could sue a god. Has anyone ever won such a lawsuit, I wonder?
Regardless, the ranger's corpse appeared and the clerk dipped his hand in ink and stamped the paper with the handprint. I guess that counts as a signature in this part of the world. He directed us on to another room, which was filled with gold. And also a giant gold dragon. Guarding the stuff, you see. He was obliging enough to move a pile of gold away so we could get at the door. Nice guy, I suppose. I'm really glad we didn't touch any of that stuff.
The next room had a mirror. With a mirror image of ourselves in it. "Hey," the half-giant said to his reflection. "Hey, yourself," the reflection said back. The two became fast friends. Then we started trying to figure out how to get through it. We tried stepping through, willing our way through, asking the gods for help, which gave us nothing, and finally I tried giving up. I leaned with my back against the stone wall next to the mirror. The half-giant started grunting and swinging his axe around at nothing. The loonies I get stuck with on these quests.
See, I came here to either receive an epic quest or die trying. And I wouldn't have been too disappointed with the latter, not when I went in, at least. But now that I was in this temple, I wanted to beat it. I didn't want to come so far only to die partway through. But even worse was to just sit around not knowing how to progress and not having any immediate danger to threaten you should you fail to do so. I kind of wished I'd picked a fight with that dragon.
I adjusted myself so that my back was resting against the mirror instead of the stone wall, and promptly fell through. I scrambled backwards through the mirror and stood up, dusting myself off. "How'd you do that?" the half-giant asked.
"I dunno," I said, and thought about it for a moment. "Try moving through the mirror backwards," I said. The half-giant tried it. It worked. Score! That's humans: 2, half-giants: 1.
Evidently this works because you can't see your reflection if you aren't looking at it, therefore the shadowy reflection in the mirror disappears if you aren't looking, at which point the mirror becomes permeable. It made sense in the DM's head, I suppose.
That was the final puzzle, I'm happy to say. After that, we came to a room with the four gods gathered in a circle around us. And they gave us a quest.
Finally. They gave us a quest.